We live in a country that is entrapped in an idiosyncratic wheel of beliefs and ideologies. With an array of religions and cultures thriving under one carapace, it is imperative to respect each other’s living molecule for an undeterred growth and harmony. The pride with which we march the caravan carrying imprints of multifarious ethnicities is a strong indicator of the spirit of nationalism imbued in each one of us.
Nationalism is a reflection of our loyalties and discipline towards our homeland. Shashi Tharoor has expatiated about the origin of “Nation” and “Nationalism” enriching its readers with an understanding of our nation, its constitution, its democratic set-up and the spirit of belonging.
The book starts at a slow pace, enlightening its readers about the concept of “Nation” and the theories behind it. It distinctly defines types of nationalism and scrutinizes the very essence of each one of them. The book invokes a powerful fume of how a nation should operate free from prejudices, social revulsions, religious animosities, impenitent ideologies and restrictive perceptions. Our nationalism should positively incline citizens towards an egalitarian society, stand upright on a hard core crust to withstand the dynamics of our diversity, obliterate the fundamentalist doctrine of vanity and self-propagation, and create a nation free from prejudices and minority distress.
The author supports civic nationalism for a better India, and after reading the book, the concept looks quite acceptable. To belong to a nation, it’s imperative to bind the people on the basis of a common platform of free speech, abiding to the constitution and its laws and a value system that integrates the spirit of belonging. But, this all seems to be in troubled waters with a regime that propagates Hindutva and self-pride. With Modi government presiding over the throne, a new nationalism seems to have clouded the secular sanctity of the nation – a nationalism which is amends laws at a drop of a hat detrimental to the unity and harmony of the nation.
Starting from the criminalization of the Triple Talaq to abrogation of Article 370, from the Citizenship Amendment Act to the Babri Masjid verdict in favour of constructing a Ram Temple is a clear indication of minority distress. The book unravels a detailed note on these defining chapters – a perspective of how the nation is moving from being secular to a Hindutva regime.
We belong to a nation because we live there. But, it’s the dutiful responsibility of the heads governing the nation to create an environment of trust, acceptability, respect for distinctive ideologies and assiduously work for a better standard of living. We should belong to in spirit and soul, and not be recklessly targeted because of our minority status, what we eat and where we pray. The book predisposes us to introspect on which level we belong to our nation. Is it ethnicity driven or is governed by cultural and religious norms? Are we liberal in our thoughts or are stricken by the Hindutva ideology? Whatever these paradigms might suggest, our belonging to the nation should be a wholesome cocktail of integrated values and ideologies.